At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world was asleep a divided Bharat awoke to her independence from her colonial masters. Upon being granted independence, this nation and her people have had an ongoing tryst with their identity. In this piece I am seeking to present a view that right since the days of her independence struggle, our nation and its people have chosen to be identified with the civilisational identity and have since then continuously exercising their self determination to not just be identified but also examine what it encompasses and entails.

A constitutional Recognition of Bharat:

Article 1,[1] of the Constitution of India, commences with the declaration, "India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States." In all its wisdom, the term Bharat and not Hindustan has been used. By using the term Bharat, the Constituent Assembly made a resounding declaration of reverting back to our indigenous identity originating from our Civilisational and Dharmic Texts. The understanding of Bharat is linked with an understanding of a larger historical narrative, and an acceptance that the fate and the destiny of this nation-state is intricately with the dispenser of destiny or the Parmatma and Brahman as we understand.

The Reference to Bharata in Our Civilisational Texts and Literature:

The origins of Bharat can be traced back to our civilisational texts, however the most prominent reference must be in the Shrimad Bhagvad Gita[2]:


English Transliteration



यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत।

अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम् ॥४-७॥

परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय दुष्कृताम्

धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय सम्भवामि युगे युगे ॥४-८॥

Yada yada hi dharmasya glanirbhavati bharata

Abhythanamadharmasya tadatmanam srijamyaham||4-7||

Paritranaya sadhunang vinashay cha dushkritam

Dharmasangsthapanarthay sambhabami yuge yuge ||4-8||

Whenever, O descendant of Bharata, there is decline of Dharma, and rise of Adharma, then I body Myself forth. For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked, and for the establishment of Dharma I come into being in every age."

Bharata and Bharatvarsha is more than a nomenclature, it is a civilisational identity rooted in the dharmic texts that have originated in the Indian subcontinent. Pandit Madhusudan Ojha in his work Bharatvarsha[3] has brought to the audience after a detailed analysis the meaning and history of the term Bharatvarsha/ Bharat.

The recognition of Bharata by the Constituent Assembly during its Debates:

Bharat Varsha is more than its nomenclature; it is an identity of People that drove their self-determination and independence struggle leading to India's independence. While the Constitution of India was being debated, deliberated, and discussed by the Constituent Assembly during its functioning, Article 1 came up for deliberation on 15.11.1948[4], 17.11.1948[5], 17.09.1949[6] and 18.09.1949[7].

On 18.09.1949, Shri H.V. Kamath (Central Provinces and Berar), Seth Govind Das (Central Provinces and Berar), Shri Kallur Subba Rao (Madras: General) while arguing in favour of naming our nation Bharat, traced out the Historical and Civilisation origins of Bharat. Shri Kamlapati Tripathi (United provinces: General) while extending the support to name our nation Bharat argued that "There is no country in the world which has been able to preserve its name and its genius even after undergoing the amount of repression, the insults and prolonged slavery which our country had to pass through. Even after thousands of years our country is still known as 'Bharat'. Since Vedic times, this name has been appearing in our literature. Our Puranas have all through eulogised the name of Bharat…."[8]. When this motion to incorporate Article 1 with the words "India, that is Bharat" was adopted it was a resounding declaration of the nation-state being identified by its indigenous and civilisational identity i.e., Bharat.

The further weaving of our Civilisation identity by recognising Bharat Bhagyo Bidata/ Jana Gana Mana as our National Anthem:

The song 'Bharat Bhagyo Bidhata'[9] was composed by Shri Rabindranath Tagore and first sung on December 27, 1911 during the session of the Congress in Calcutta. Subsequently, published in 1912 under the title Bharat Bidhata in the Tatwabodhini Patrika, Brahmo Samaj's official publication.

Upon attaining freedom, the Constituent Assembly of India assembled for the first time as a sovereign body on August 14, 1947, midnight and the session closed with a unanimous performance of "Jana Gana Mana". The Assembly officially proclaimed it as India's National Anthem on January 24, 1950.

The anthem originally is composed of 5 stanzas and while we only sing the 1st Stanza, however there is a greater significance in the remaining Stanzas. The anthem commences with a salutation to the Parmatma, the one who is dispenser of India's Destiny and as seen in the comparative table below it expounds in great details the dedication made to the Parmatma as understood in our Dharmic Texts:






জনগণমন-অধিনায়ক জয় হে ভারতভাগ্যবিধাতা!

পঞ্জাব সিন্ধু গুজরাট মরাঠা দ্রাবিড় উৎকল বঙ্গ

বিন্ধ্য হিমাচল যমুনা গঙ্গা উচ্ছলজলধিতরঙ্গ

তব শুভ নামে জাগে, তব শুভ আশিষ মাগে,

গাহে তব জয়গাথা

জনগণমঙ্গলদায়ক জয় হে ভারতভাগ্যবিধাতা!

জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় জয় জয় জয় হে!

Janaganamana-adhināaka jaa hē Bhāratabhāgyabidhātā!

Pañjāba Sindhu Gujarāa Marāhā Drābi Utkala Baga]

Bindhya Himācala Yamunā Gagā ucchalajaladhitaraga

Taba Śubha nāmē jāgē, taba śubha āśia māgē,

gāhē taba jaagāthā /

Janaganamagaladāaka jaa hē Bhāratabhāgyabidhātā!

Jaa hē, Jaa hē, Jaa hē, jaa jaa jaa jaa hē.

Oh! the ruler of the minds of people, victory be to You, dispenser of the destiny of India!

Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, Maratha (Marathi heartland), Dravida (South India), Orissa and Bengal,

The Vindhyas, the Himalayas, the Jumna (Yamuna) and the Ganges, and the oceans with foaming waves all around.

Wake up listening to Your auspicious name, ask for Your auspicious blessings,

And sing to Your glorious victory.

Oh! You who impart well being to the people, victory be to You, dispenser of the destiny of India!

Victory, victory, victory to You!.


অহরহ তব আহ্বান প্রচারিত, শুনি তব উদার বাণী

হিন্দু বৌদ্ধ শিখ জৈন পারসিক মুসলমান খৃস্টানী

পূরব পশ্চিম আসে তব সিংহাসন-পাশে

প্রেমহার হয় গাঁথা

জনগণ-ঐক্য-বিধায়ক জয় হে ভারতভাগ্যবিধাতা!

জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় জয় জয় জয় হে

Aharaha taba āhbāna pracārita, śuni tabaudāra bānī

Hindu BaudhhaŚikha Jaina Pārasika Musalamāna Khr̥sānī

PūrabaPaścima āsē taba sihāsana-pāśē

Prēmahāra haa gām̐thā /

Janagana-aikya-bidhāaka jaa hē Bhāratabhāgyabidha!

Jaa hē, Jaa hē, Jaa hē, jaa jaa jaa jaa hē.

Your call is announced continuously, we heed Your gracious call

The Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Muslims and Christians,

The East and the West come together, to the side of Your throne

And weave the garland of love.

Oh! You who bring in the unity of the people! Victory be to You, dispenser of the destiny of India!

Victory, victory, victory to You!


পতন-অভ্যুদয়-বন্ধুর পন্থা, যুগ যুগ ধাবিত যাত্রী

হে চিরসারথি, তব রথচক্রে মুখরিত পথ দিনরাত্রি

দারুণ বিপ্লব-মাঝে তব শঙ্খধ্বনি বাজে


জনগণপথপরিচায়ক জয় হে ভারতভাগ্যবিধাতা!

জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় জয় জয় জয় হে

Patana-abhuyadaa-bandhura panthā, yuga yuga dhābit] yātrī /

Hē cirasārathi, taba rathacakrē mukharita patha dinarātri /

Dāruna biplaba-mājhē taba śakhadhbani[o] bājē[p]


Janaganapathaparicāaka jaa hē Bhāratabhāgyabidhātā[b]!

Jaa hē, Jaa hē, Jaa hē, jaa jaa jaa jaa hē.

The way of life is somber as it moves through ups and downs, but we, the pilgrims, have followed it through ages.

Oh! Eternal Charioteer, the wheels of your chariot echo day and night in the path

In the midst of fierce revolution, your conch shell sounds.

You save us from fear and misery.

Oh! You who guide the people through torturous path, victory be to You, dispenser of the destiny of India!

Victory, victory, victory to You!


ঘোরতিমিরঘন নিবিড় নিশীথে পীড়িত মূর্ছিত দেশে

জাগ্রত ছিল তব অবিচল মঙ্গল নতনয়নে অনিমেষে

দুঃস্বপ্নে আতঙ্কে রক্ষা করিলে অঙ্কে

স্নেহময়ী তুমি মাতা

জনগণদুঃখত্রায়ক জয় হে ভারতভাগ্যবিধাতা!

জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় জয় জয় জয় হে

Ghōratimiraghana nibia niśīthē pīita mūrchita dēśē

Jāgrata chila taba abicala] magala natanaanē animeē /

Dusbapn] ātakē rakā karilē a

Snēhamaī tumi mātā /

Janaganadukhatrāaka jaa hē Bhāratabhāgyabidhāt]!

Jaa hē, Jaa hē, Jaa hē, jaa jaa jaa jaa hē.

During the bleakest of nights, when the whole country was sick and in swoon

Wakeful remained Your incessant blessings, through Your lowered but wink-less eyes

Through nightmares and fears, you protected us on Your lap,

Oh Loving Mother

Oh! You who have removed the misery of the people, victory be to You, dispenser of the destiny of India!

Victory, victory, victory to You!


রাত্রি প্রভাতিল, উদিল রবিচ্ছবি পূর্ব-উদয়গিরিভালে

গাহে বিহঙ্গম, পূণ্য সমীরণ নবজীবনরস ঢালে

তব করুণারুণরাগে নিদ্রিত ভারত জাগে

তব চরণে নত মাথা

জয় জয় জয় হে জয় রাজেশ্বর ভারতভাগ্যবিধাতা!

জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় হে, জয় জয় জয় জয় হে

Rātri prabhātila, udila rabicchabi pūrba-udaagiribhālē-

Gāhē bigagama, pūrnya samīrana nabajībanarasa hālē /

Taba karunārurarāgē nidrita Bhārata jāgē

taba caranē nata māthā /

Jaa Jaa Jaa hē jaa rājēśbara Bhāratabhāgyabidhātā!

Jaa hē, Jaa hē, Jaa hē, jaa jaa jaa jaa hē.

The night is over, and the Sun has risen over the hills of the eastern horizon.

The birds are singing, and a gentle auspicious breeze is pouring the elixir of new life.

By the halo of Your compassion, India that was asleep is now waking

On your feet we now lay our heads

Oh! Victory, victory, victory to you, the Supreme King, victory be to You, dispenser of the destiny of India!

Victory, victory, victory to You!

An Analysis of Jana Gana Mana and its Corelation to the Bhagvad Gita:

Upon a perusal of the Stanzas the following points come to my mind:

  1. In the first Stanza, the anthem begins with salutations to the ruler of the minds of people, and prayer is made for victory to him who is dispenser of the destiny of Bharat. Shri Rabindranath Tagore further declares that across this land people wake up listening to his auspicious name and seek his auspicious blessings and it is concluded with a prayer that he who means well-being of the people may victory always be to him.
  1. In the second Stanza, he proclaims that regardless of the faith, the people from the east and the west heed his call and are united before him and prayer for his victory. In the third stanza, there is a greater reflection of the understanding of the Parmatma, he is the eternal charioteer, he further blows conch shell during the revolution and saved them from misery. Rabindranath Tagore reflects how humans are nothing but eternal pilgrims who have followed him through the ages.
  1. In the Fourth stanza Rabindranath Tagore expounds that the Parmatma has removed the misery of the people, victory be to him the dispenser of the destiny of India. In the last Stanza Rabindranath Tagore describes that the people of India are awoken from their slumber and bow down and lay their heads to his feet and victory be to the dispenser of destiny of Bharat.

Rabindranath Tagore has made specific references to the eternal charioteer, the one who blows the conch shell and humans have followed him as pilgrims through the ages. If one can draw a corollary in the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Vasudev Krishna was Arjun's charioteer and blew the conch shell during the battle and delivered the Shrimad Bhagvad Geeta when Arjuna was conflicted about taking part in the battle. When the eternal knowledge was revealed, Arjun was asked to surrender and perform his duties regardless of the adversities faced by him for it is in the performance of the Karma he would be the nimita matram in establishment of Dharma.

A controversy had arisen if Rabindranath Tagore had written this as a dedication to George the Fourth or George the Fifth. Rabindranath Tagore's while refuting the absurd claims made his intentions of composing the anthem expressly clear by way of his letter dated 10 November 1937[11]:

"A certain high official in His Majesty's service, who was also my friend, had requested that I write a song of felicitation towards the Emperor. The request simply amazed me. It caused a great stir in my heart. In response to that great mental turmoil, I pronounced the victory in Jana Gana Mana of that Bhagya Bidhata [ed. God of Destiny] of India who has from age after age held steadfast the reins of India's chariot through rise and fall, through the straight path and the curved. That Lord of Destiny, that Reader of the Collective Mind of India, that Perennial Guide, could never be George V, George VI, or any other George. Even my official friend understood this about the song. After all, even if his admiration for the crown was excessive, he was not lacking in simple common sense."

By his subsequent letter in 1939 he further spelled out that:

"I should only insult myself if I cared to answer those who consider me capable of such unbounded stupidity as to sing in praise of George the Fourth or George the Fifth as the Eternal Charioteer leading the pilgrims on their journey through countless ages of the timeless history of mankind."

Considering the above, I would like to draw a corollary to the Krishna's covenant to all of mankind that he would appear in every yuga to re-establish Dharma. To me Rabindranath Tagore's composition is not just a dedication to the eternal charioteer who guides us all but also a poetic reaffirmation of him being the dispenser of Bharata's destiny.

Institutional Recognition of Dharmic Texts:

Upon a further examination it will be seen that our institute ons have further taken principles from our Dharmic texts the legislature and other institutions including State High Courts have adopted their official motto as सत्यमेव जयते (Satyameva Jayate): "Truth Alone Triumphs", this is taken from the shloka 3.1.6 of the "Mundaka Upanishad", a part of Upanishads. The entire shlok reads a such:


English Transliteration



सत्यमेव जयते नानृतं सत्येन पन्था विततो देवयानः

येनाक्रमन्त्यृषयो ह्याप्तकामा यत्र तत् सत्यस्य परमं निधानम्

satyameva jayate nānṛtaṃ

satyena panthā vitato devayānaḥ

yenākramantyṛṣayo hyāptakāmā

yatra tat satyasya paramaṃ nidhānam

Truth alone triumphs; not falsehood. Through truth the divine path is spread out by which the sages whose desires have been completely fulfilled, reach to where is that supreme treasure of Truth

The Supreme Court has adopted the Shlok यतो धर्मस्ततो जयः (Yato Dharmastato Jayah): "Where there is Dharma, there will be Victory". The above motto is part of a larger shloka from the Mahabharat यतः कृष्णस्ततो धर्मो यतो धर्मस्ततो जयः (Yatho Krishna Tatho Dharma, yato Dharmastato Jaya) "victory is ensured for the side standing with Dharma, where Krishna is, there is victory"

The institutional adoption of these mottos itself is a recognition of our dharmic values. Similarly, the Indian Army's motto is सेवा परमो धर्म: (Seva Paramo Dharma): Service is our prime duty. This has an interlink with another essential shlok from the Bhagvad Geeta[12]:


English Transliteration



कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।

मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ॥२-४७॥

Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,

Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani ||2-47||

To action alone hast thou a right and never at all to its fruits, let not he fruits of action be thy motive; neither let there be in thee any attachment to inaction

Concluding Remarks:

The constitutional recognition of Bharat and institutional recognition of our dharmic texts are essential in the self-determination of our civilisation, our culture, and our identity. Bharat is the indigenous name of our nation-state a name that is traced back to the Vedic period, one that has not been abandoned throughout our colonisation, it is a name that has not been imposed upon us and is in continuous usage. Bharata has not just a dharmic identity but reflects our perseverance to stay committed to our roots and our cultivational beliefs. As Bharat celebrates 75 years of independence it has ushered a new era of decolonisation, the judges of the Supreme Court of India have expressed it to be a mandate. Furthermore, across the world there is a movement recognising decolonisation as an inherent facet of self-determination. This facet of decolonisation as a facet of self-determination is well reflected in The Mabo Trials[13] of Australia, where in occupied lands were reverted to its original identity and returned to the indigenous peoples. This was in consonance with customary international law principles of self-determination as recognised in Article 1(2) of the UN Charter[14] and UN Resolution A/RES/1514(XV).[15]

It is imperative that our Bharat, a vivisected civilisation, a country that was expected to fail and its people find their decolonised identity and proceed to self-determine their destiny and faith based on their indigenous systems. As we enter the next 75 years of our independence, I hope to see a greater reversion to our Indic Knowledge Systems the infusion of our civilisational knowledge and Vedantic or trivalued logic system in mainstream education along with Indic jurisprudence that allows us and facilitates us to adopt them in our institutional workings and general discourses.

The author is an Advocate at the Supreme Court of India. Views are personal.

[The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. Verdictum does not assume any responsibility or liability for the contents of the article.]

[1]Constitution of India, Article 1.

[2] S Radhakrishnan, Bhagvad Gita (Seventh edn., George Allen & Urwin Ltd. 1963).

[3] Pandit Madhusudan Ojha, Bharatvarsha -The Indian Narrative (As told in Indravijayah), (Rupa Publications India Pvt ltd 2017).

[4] Constituent Assembly Debates, Book No. 7, November 15, 1948.

[5] Constituent Assembly Debates, Book No. 7, November 17, 1948.

[6] Constituent Assembly Debates, Book No. 9, September 17, 1949.

[7] Constituent Assembly Debates, Book No. 9, September 18, 1949.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Rabindranath Tagore, 'Jana Gana Mana' (Cultural India, -) <> accessed 14 August 2022.

[10] Rabindranath Thakur, 'Jano Gano Mano' (Sanyal.Family, -) <> accessed 14 August 2022.

[11] Refer Culture India (n 9).

[12] S Radhakrishnan, Bhagvad Gita (n 2) 119.

[13] Mabo v Queensland (No 2) [1992] HCA 23, (1992) 175 CLR 1. (commonly known as Mabo) is a decision of the High Court of Australia, decided on 3 June 1992. It is a landmark case, brought by Eddie Mabo against the State of Queensland.

[14] United Nations, Charter of the United Nations, 24 October 1945, 1 UNTS XVI.

[15] UN General Assembly, Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, 14 December 1960, A/RES/1514(XV)